Siemens has announced the acquisition of Lightwork Design of Sheffield, England. Lightwork began life as an OEM provider of rendering software to many CAD companies including Autodesk, PTC, Siemens, and Dassault at one time or another. The company did not make products that sold directly to customers.
Lightwork Design supplied rendering technology to Siemens for over twenty years. The company switched gears with the arrival of GPU powered ray tracing technology and adopted Nvidia’s iRay to based its products on and to create specialized visualization tools for its customers in the CAD industry.
As an example of the type of work Lightworks Design has been doing with Siemens, Lightworks introduced Slipstream in 2017. It’s a tool that enables customers to create a workflow for exporting complex models into game engines like Unity or Unreal. The same kind of procedural methods are required to enable models to be visualized, analyzed, simulated, and mechanized. All the sort of things, Siemens and their customers will need to realize the digital twin strategy.
In a letter announcing the acquisition, Tony Hemmelgarn said that Siemens customers are increasingly making photorealistic rendering and visualizations. In addition, the company sees opportunity in augmented reality, virtual reality, model-based engineering, digital mock-ups, and mobile visualizations.
Lightworks Design will be combined with Siemens PLM Components business. The company says more than 240 companies integrate Siemens PLM Software technology into 350 commercial applications for six million end users.
What do we think?
Given the nature of its business, Lightworks Design is a company that stays in the background, but throughout much of its history, CAD companies have chosen it as their rendering engine. At one time the company could claim more customers for its rendering technology than any other product on the market because of the high installed base of CAD users. That doesn’t mean everyone was using the tools, but Lightworks’ rendering technology was accessible to the highest number of customers.
The game has changed with ray tracing, but rendering has also become much more important in the workflows of CAD customers. The Lightworks team is battle hardened, responsive, and adaptive. They should be a valuable asset within Siemens, and while Siemens is an enormous organism, it tends to preserve the companies it assimilates.